Duke University was well represented in the United Center on Monday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers featured star point guard Kyrie Irving who played just 11 games for the Blue Devils during his lone season in Durham due to a toe injury, but was still taken No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
In the Bulls locker room, there are three former Blue Devils on the roster: Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy Jr.
To cap it all off, the entire 2012-13 Duke squad was in attendance to the Bulls and Cavs square-off, including Chicago native and Simeon Career Academy alum, Jabari Parker.
Parker will lead his Duke squad against Andrew Wiggins and the Kansas Jayhawks in Tuesday’s State Farm Champions Classic at the UC, and Blue Devils – past and present – reveled in the excitement and their love for Duke basketball on Monday night.
“Best experience ever, man,” said Carlos Boozer of his time at Duke. “College is so much fun. Every game is down to the wire. The Final Four – for those who’ve had a chance to experience it – there’s nothing like it. You’ve got the four best teams going at it for one title, it’s so exciting.”
Boozer and his current Bulls teammate, Dunleavy Jr., led Duke to the 2001 National Championship, along with another former Chicago Bulls player, point guard Jay Williams.
“It takes a special group – from the first day of practice, all the way through the preseason, the conference schedule, and the NCAA Tournament,” said Dunleavy reminiscing on his college championship season. “You need a special group all the way through. You need commitment each and every day, and you need a little bit of luck. I hope Duke has that with them this year.”
Coach K reached out to his former players in both locker rooms and they all appreciated hearing from one of the legendary coaches in the game.
“It’s nice having Duke vibes around other than my teammate, Carlos and Luol,” said Dunleavy. “But to have more guys like Coach K [Mike Krzyewski] and the rest of the Duke players around is nice.”
“I saw coach K earlier and the whole team right before the game,” said Boozer. “It was good to see everybody and I’m going to come tomorrow night and support.”